Cheeseburger and Pepsi

Guy's Cafe

Walk with me to a place I call yesterday. In years, it is more than half of a century gone; in my reverie, it was a few hours ago. Yesterday was 1958, and the place was downtown Johnson City, Tennessee. Open your mind and see the little corner cafe as it was in a simpler era, a time when there was no use in hurrying and scurrying about living a daily life. Men worked during the days on jobs in factories, stores, and small offices. A majority of women were home raising and teaching their children. Most families owned a big, wooden box with a small screen displaying less than perfect black and white moving pictures which could enhance their lives with the latest news and entertainment; a time when news and entertainment were not the same thing. In the evening, a man would come home from his daily job duties where there would be a meal cooking on the stove and soon the family would sit down together and feel blessed by their fortunate circumstances. After supper, they would migrate to the living room of their modest but well cared for house and watch TV for a few hours. The viewing fare then was about the same as now; local news followed by network feed news from around the world. One thing different clearly manifested itself; the news was more important than the news anchor person. In those days, a commercial would be interrupted for breaking news whereas now breaking news is at the mercy of senseless commercials. After the news was over, the few available channels offered variety shows, sit-coms, police and detective shows, and western dramas where having a horse between a cowboy’s legs was more important than the cowboy being between the legs of a saloon girl. The children of the American family were usually in bed by no later than nine o’clock with the parents following by ten. There was really not much to do compared to what we now take for granted; it was an age of routine but not at all boring.
Guy’s Cafe was located at the corner of W. Market St. and McClure St. on the edge of downtown and at the time of my innocence the little sidewalk covering over the door did not exist and neither would a weed like the one shown been allowed to flourish. Remember with me the plate glass windows that ran the length of the McClure street side. The two front windows were regular house-type windows and the door was a heavy wooden door with glass panes in its top half. Inside and along the windows was a row of booths, not many, but they were typical vinyl and chrome of the period. Near the back was a jukebox which seemed to be in a constant mode of musical activity. Beside the booths was a narrow isle and opposite them was a counter with stools which matched the decor of the booths. The lighting was mostly from the large windows in daytime and from small overhead fixtures for the supper crowd. Attached to the back of the counter between each two stools was a miniature of the corner jukebox and they were also placed on each booth table. This feature was a boon for the worker who had a short lunch break and wanted to eat his beans and cornbread while listening to Hank Williams sing Kaw-liga.
At the back and the very end of the isle was a single uni-sex bathroom for use by the public and the establishment workers. behind the counter there was barely room enough for two workers to pass by each other and over another small counter behind that was the long, narrow kitchen and storage area. The entrance and exit end of the dining counter was cut diagonally so the front door could be opened and leave room enough for people to stand while paying their bill at the cash register.
One summer day when I was 14 years old, I was in town with my mother; we had bought new school clothes for me because the time of my annual autumn angst was approaching. Afterward, she was mostly window shopping while awaiting my dad to come and pick us up in the car. She suggested–probably after sufficient whining by me–that I go along to Guy’s Cafe and get myself a cheeseburger and Pepsi. That was at a time when mothers didn’t have to worry about their children being abducted while walking alone in the small city. She gave me a dollar and down the streets I merrily went to have the best cheeseburger in town, and for all I know, in any town. I went in and found an empty stool and just as I sat down, I felt someone squeeze my shoulder. I looked up and beside me sat my uncle who I had not seen in many years; one day he just picked up and caught a bus, looking for new horizons. No one in the family heard of him for all that time, and all of a sudden he was sitting beside me. He said Wayne is that you and I nodded and said Buford is that you. We sat eating burgers and talking; he asking how everyone was I asking where he had been. He had worked his way to Chicago where he found a good job in a car factory and he lived in a boarding house; he was a lifetime bachelor and was able to drift with the wind. Finally my parents came in and there was momentary shock on their faces at seeing their “little” boy having a happy talk with whom they thought to be a stranger, and even more shock when I turned and grinned about my “find” and Buford was recognized. It was a good time to be 14 that day; I had finally become old enough to be trusted lallygagging around town on my own, finding my long-lost uncle, having a superb cheeseburger, and getting to keep my dollar because Buford paid for my lunch.
I don’t really miss the “old days”, but would like to go back, even if only for a few minutes to places like Guy’s Cafe and once more enjoy the sights, sounds, feels, smells, and tastes of indelible memories such as this.
I made the photo in 2007; since then the little building has been demolished and there is a little used parking lot in its place. In my real world, it will be there forever as dishes tinkle, smells of fresh cheeseburgers come from the kitchen and the Everly Brothers are on the jukebox singing All I Have To Do Is Dream.

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 7:58 pm  Comments (6)  
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Descending Roam Mt.

No porch siting today as the world is very cool and moist; the fat lady has yet to sing her winter aria.
Carolyn bought a cantaloupe (mountain dialect is “mushmelon” which is slang for “muskmelon”) at the market. The market owner had just come back from Columbia, South Carolina with a load of spring produce. The melons may have originated in Florida; he said they were sweet and he was correct. I don’t know why it is, but early mushmelons are always sweeter than those produced later on. Even our local Chucky River varieties are not as sweet as these foreigners. One thing I would love to have is a sweet honey dew melon, but the last dozen or so that we bought have not been edible because they seem to have no sugar content. We haven’t bought one in several years.
I still like a bit having the 2010 income taxes done and it looks like we will be close to breaking even for the year, meaning we shouldn’t have to pay more than $50. This morning I did the 1st quarter state unemployment taxes which overall, was not too painful.
The weekend weather is shaping up to be mild but cloudy so I doubt I can get out for a shoot. The Lady Vols play at noon Saturday and this will likely be their last game in this year’s championship series. The opponent is Ohio State which is a good but not great team, however if the way Tennessee played the last game is any indication, my ladies should be handily whipped.

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm  Comments (6)  
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Cold and cooking


Still snowing and the wind is like a saw blade against the skin! Carolyn went out to work last evening, got caught in a whiteout and blamed it on me. God must have closed up shop for the night so I was second in line for her fury. I looked out the window of our office and proclaimed in my deep, deity voice, “Peace; be still!” and in just a few minutes the snow stopped. Sometimes I amaze myself.
Do you like coffee and biscuits? I do, since I was a very small boy. Take a couple of homemade biscuits, split them in half, pour some hot coffee into a plate, place the biscuits crust upward in the coffee, and as the bread sponges the coffee, pour more coffee over them. When they have soaked all the liquid they can hold, sprinkle on sugar and have at ’em. Poor man’s donuts. Canned biscuits (bachelor biscuits) don’t work so well, and I haven’t tried the Pillsbury frozen variety, but they should be pretty good.
I wish the Luck’s company would resume cooking and canning October beans; they are much better tasting than pinto beans. Octobers are also called shelly beans or cranberry beans. They are the only variety of brown beans fit to eat with a common biscuit or cornbread, and Carolyn cooks them at least three times each month. They are best when cooked with a piece of streaked meat (pork belly that has too much fat for regular bacon). When I was growing up, we had them several times each week; in fact, Octobers and potatoes were the staples of our diet.
May your Wednesday whatabouts be productive!


Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 11:16 am  Comments (9)  
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Today’s lunch on my knee; The Great American Hot dog! This nutritious meal has a bun, a 12″ (305mm) wiener, onions, American cheese, beef sauce, mustard, and hot peppers. Carolyn treated me because I was feeling so badly. Photo by Droid X.

Published in: on December 23, 2010 at 5:11 pm  Comments (4)  

Frenzy and food

Autumn forsythia

Was yesterday the holiday or is it today? This Black Friday crap is out of hand; is it an American-only rite of passage or is it in more capitalist countries? Christians, rein in your holiday; you started this Christmas bit and it is up to you to control it; you have placed a curse upon the world. For anyone not familiar with our Sacred Black Friday Service, it denotes the biggest shopping day of the year; many retailers make as much as 50% of their yearly profit on the day after Thanksgiving holiday; big discounts all on a first come, first served basis. The past two Black Fridays were a disappointment sales-wise, so this year they began having Black Friday sales two weeks ago, especially online retailers. Even the big chain stores “leaked” info about their discounts; when Target let it be known that it would have 32″ TVs for $299, everyone else began cutting prices to match or beat them and now you can find plain-jane 37″ models for $300. We have a basic Vizio 37″ which we bought for the bedroom four years ago and it was a bargain then at $899.
I like tossing Christians to the lions by blaming them for everything.
Carolyn prepared quite a meal yesterday, but not as elaborate as usual; instead of tater salad, we had mashed taters and she didn’t make baked beans. Her four best dishes are meat loaf, tater salad, dressing, and baked beans. She made broccoli casserole, green beans, macaroni and cheese, turkey breast, gravy, dressing, cranberry sauce, corn on the cob, deviled eggs, sweet tater casserole and store-bought rolls. She bought punkin and sweet tater pies and made a jello desert. She began cooking at 6:30am and we ate at 2:30pm. She did it all herself; no one but I offered to help. The amounts of food were generally less this year and some were missing, such as ham, candied sweet taters, pecan pie, and the aforementioned baked beans. Other than the fact that we had to buy all the food and Carolyn had to do all the cooking and cleaning up, it was a fairly good gathering. We had only four guests, so there is enough food left over to eat on today. Hope y’all had a good day.
The photo was made this morning.

Published in: on November 26, 2010 at 10:50 am  Comments (2)  
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